Imperial Valley News
SACRAMENTO - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and more than two dozen agricultural, water, environmental, labor and business leaders today called for action on a water bond for California.
Here's what they're saying:
California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger: "With California experiencing an unprecedented drought on the heels of two dry years, the most important issue on the November ballot is the passage of a water bond. It is an absolute necessity that the greatest single component of this bond be dedicated to water storage, something that has been sorely absent in the last five water bonds that have been passed by the voters since 1996. We applaud Governor Brown's enthusiastic support for increasing California's water storage capabilities, a commitment not seen since his father Pat Brown was governor."
Metropolitan Water District General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger: "The bond proposal is a workable framework that reflects the fiscal limitations of California at a time when significant water investments are acutely needed. The funding for local supply assistance closely matches the needs of the Metropolitan service area, while investments in statewide system reliability will provide both environmental and supply benefits."
Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Executive Director Timothy Quinn: "ACWA applauds the recent progress on developing a smaller, more viable water bond for the November 2014 ballot. As California experiences one of the worst droughts in its history, 2014 is clearly a year to commit to the implementation of a comprehensive water program to improve water supply and drought preparedness throughout the state. The passage of a water bond in 2014 is fundamental to this goal. ACWA supports the framework for a $6.995 billion bond released by the Brown Administration on Monday. We believe that it takes an historic step toward addressing California's water crisis in a fiscally prudent manner, while providing substantial funding for new storage, local resource development, watershed enhancement, and safe drinking water. We recognize that there are still significant issues under negotiation, and urge all parties to work together to resolve remaining differences as soon as possible. If we can achieve a smaller bond with bipartisan support and broad support from water, business, labor, agricultural, and conservation interests throughout the state, the prospects for success at the ballot in November will be greatly enhanced."
California Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Allan Zaremberg: "Water is the lifeblood of the California economy. Now, in this time of severe drought, we need our elected leaders to come together to find the right balance between addressing our water crisis and reigning in debt."
Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman: "California's economy is choking on too much debt and not enough water. The measure which surfaced today is a pork-free proposal that funds the projects we need. From drought to downpour, Bay Area businesses are increasingly concerned about California's ability to adapt to extreme weather events. This water bond would help other parts of the state reduce reliance on water imported from Northern California, and represents a test case to whether or not we can come together to address basic problems."
California Alliance for Jobs Executive Director Jim Earp: "Governor Brown's proposal for a bond makes prudent, high-priority investments in a water delivery system that was built to serve less than half the number of people it struggles to accommodate today. Approval of the plan he is finalizing in his negotiations with legislators will add badly needed water storage above and below the ground, clean up water supplies, give water agencies critical funding for local projects and protect endangered watersheds. It is imperative we give voters the opportunity to approve a plan that is long overdue and actually solves problems."
Community Water Center Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder Susana De Anda: "Access to safe and affordable water is a basic human right. The Community Water Center supports this water bond because it plays a vital role in our efforts to ensure all Californians have access to safe, clean and affordable drinking water."
The Nature Conservancy Water Program Director Brian Stranko: "In this historic drought, our communities are suffering, our farms are suffering and the environment upon which we all depend is suffering. Our window to prepare for future droughts is now. We need a well-structured Water Bond, one that invests in water infrastructure improvements and one that protects and restores our natural environment. That's what is necessary to get us through this drought and what is necessary to get a bond voters across the state will support in November."
California Trout Conservation Director Curtis Knight: "The ongoing severe drought in California underscores the need to invest in innovative, long-term solutions to California's water future. We need to find the right balance of investment to facilitate sustainable water management in California. During drought times we need to find collaborative solutions that work for people and fish. Trout, steelhead and salmon are important indicators of watershed health and are important drivers of many rural and coastal economies. Work done to improve the status of these species directly benefits safe drinking water supplies, water quality, and the economic health of all Californians."
American Rivers California Director Steve Rothert: "California's remarkable rivers need help to overcome the threats they face, including the current drought, excessive diversions and habitat degradation. No compromise is perfect, but this Water Bond will provide billions of dollars to help restore and protect our rivers for the benefit of fish, farms and families."
Trout Unlimited California Director Brian J. Johnson: "Drought makes allies of us all. None of us can live without clean water or the rivers that provide it. Trout Unlimited is encouraged by the progress made by Governor Brown and the leadership toward a water bond California can support."
This call for action followed a meeting convened by Governor Brown in Sacramento today. In addition to representatives from the groups and organizations quoted above, the Governor was joined by: Senator Fran Pavley, Senator Lois Wolk, Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, Metropolitan Water District Assistant General Manager for Strategic Initiatives Roger Patterson, Westlands Water District Director Jason Peltier, California Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President for Policy Jeanne Cain, Community Water Center Local and State Policy Advocate Omar Carrillo, California Conference of Carpenters Director Danny Curtin, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California Legislative Director Cesar Diaz, California State Council of Laborers Legislative Department Director Jose Mejia, California-Nevada Conference of Operating Engineers Director of Education and Research Tim Cremins, Silicon Valley Leadership Group Vice President Mike Mielke, California Labor Federation Legislative Director Angie Wei, San Diego County Water Authority Assistant General Manager Dennis Cushman, Yuba County Water Agency Board Member Tib Belza, Santa Clara Valley Water District Deputy Operating Officer Joan Maher, California Waterfowl Association President John Carlson, Audubon California Working Lands Program Director Meghan Hertel, Ducks Unlimited Western Regional Director Mark Biddlecomb, Western Growers Association Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Communications Dave Puglia, California State Food and Agriculture Board President Craig McNamara and Natural Resources Defense Council Director of California Advocacy in San Francisco Annie Notthoff.
Governor Brown, Speaker Atkins and pro Tem Steinberg's water bond proposal (here and here) provides for water use efficiency and recycling, effective groundwater management and $2.5 billion for additional storage. It invests in safe drinking water, particularly in disadvantaged communities, and provides for watershed restoration and increased flows in some of California's most important rivers and streams.
Yesterday, Governor Brown signed legislation that extends the deadline to place a new water bond on the November ballot, allowing for additional time to work toward an agreement.
(PHOTO: Governor Brown meets with legislative, agricultural, water, environmental, labor and business leaders. Credit: Justin Short, Office of the Governor.)